The Associated Press has compiled a Holiday Style Guide of words, phrases and definitions to help its members and subscribers with spelling and usage of traditional terms for religious and cultural holidays in December and January. The guidance, compiled by the AP Stylebook and Lifestyles teams, encompasses Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s festivities. Some terms are taken from the AP Stylebook. Others are common usage in holiday stories transmitted by AP.
Here is a partial list. Click to see the full one.
The four Sundays preceding Christmas.
“Auld Lang Syne”
Sung to greet the New Year, poem by Robert Burns set to Scottish music.
Capitalize in reference to the Scriptures; lowercase biblical in all uses.
Post-Christmas holiday Dec. 26 In British Commonwealth countries.
Capitalize sparkling wine from the French region uncorked to celebrate New Year’s.
Christmas Eve, Christmas Day
Capitalize Dec. 24 and Dec. 25 Christian feast marking the birth of Jesus.
Lowercase tree and other seasonal terms with Christmas: card, wreath, carol, etc. Exception: National Christmas Tree.
Lowercase the biblical praise to God, but capitalize in composition titles: Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus.
Eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights starting Dec. 20 this year.
Jesus, Jesus Christ
Pronouns referring to him are lowercase, as is savior.
happy holidays, merry Christmas, season’s greetings
Such phrases are generally spelled lowercase, though Christmas is always capitalized.
Capitalize the biblical region.
Not Kris. Derived from the German word, Christkindl, or baby Jesus.
African-American and Pan-African celebration of family, community and culture, Dec. 26-Jan. 1.
Three wise men who brought gifts to the infant Jesus at Epiphany, celebrated Jan. 6.
Candelabrum with nine branches used for Hanukkah.
Capitalized in references to Jesus or to the promised deliverer in Judaism.
Only the first word is capitalized.
New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day
Capitalized for Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.
Mythical home of Santa Claus.
“The Twelve Days of Christmas”
Spell the numeral in the Christmas carol
Don’t use this abbreviation for Christmas.